Feminism, much like women and the needs of women, is constantly changing. We are growing towards new breeds - inclusive, intersectional - and new tools; from books to brands, apps to activist collectives.
There are social media warriors, writers, actors and boots-on-ground activists, comedians, artists and politicians. There are those that use their platforms as tools for change and others who dedicate their careers to inspiring and enabling other women.
This list covers just 20 of the many, many feminists inspiring us right now, with their causes, their successes and their work. Their jobs and experiences are varied but their passion for the feminist fight is the same.
1. Kuchenga Shenje
She describes herself as an agitator, and she certainly is that. A writer and activist, she is a brilliant, and inspiring voice in the UK trans community worth following for her humour, warmth and insight into the realities of trans life. She also lobbies for Black Lives Matter and organises a letter-writing project called Bent Bars, which supports LGBTQ prisoners in Britain.
2. Neelam Keshwala
A nu-gen feminist if ever there was one, Neelam is a bright new face on the activism scene. Formerly a communications strategist for feminist activist group Girls Not Brides, an international organisation that works to end child marriage across the world, she now works for a start-up called Chorus, which supports grassroots activism. In her own personal activism, Neelam has also founded DON’T SLEEP ON US – a networking collective platform primarily designed to empower BME women who create change in their communities. Definitely one to watch.
3. Gina Martin
The #metoo movement reminded us of the extent of sexual harassment that we face every day. Someone prepared to take action against that is feminist and writer Gina Martin. When a man tried to take a photo up her dress at a festival, she didn’t just brush it off- she took legal action. Since then she has been on a longstanding campaign to make upskirting illegal – and has. She is the author of a new book on activism, Be The Change, out in June. **Adds to Basket**
4. Alya Mooro
A big name to watch; Alya Mooro is one of the first writers to publish under Amazon’s own publishing imprint Little A. Her first book ‘The Greater Freedom’ is part memoir and part social commentary and is a stirring and relevant feminist work that focuses on rewriting negative stereotypes of Middle Eastern women. She’ll be a household name by the time the book comes out this September.
5. Elyse Fox
Placing mental health at the forefront of feminist issues, Elyse founded @sadgirlsclub to destigmatise depression and mental health issues for women of colour. The club organsises IRL events across the US like a Sad Girls Running Club and Sad Girls film Club, and has just founded @producedbygirls which supports and champions female creatives.
6. Grace Campbell
Part of the feminist power of three behind Pink Protest, alongside pals Scarlett Curtis and Alice Skinner, Grace is a bold, political feminist voice for our times. She’s a comedian, as well as an activist: go to one of her shows, leave happy, tickled and fired up.
7. Amika George
She brought period poverty to our attention, founding the amazing #FreePeriods movement that led to real social change and with the UK government pledging to fund free menstrual products in all secondary schools and colleges in England. Her feminism is young, engaged and socially active. She is a passionate new light on the activist scene and she’s only just getting started.
8. Jess Phillips
Could we be looking at our next prime minister? The enormously popular MP is one of our favourite politicians. As a student she marched against the Iraq war and before becoming an MP she worked for Women’s Aid. She frequently calls out sexism at every level. Funny, outspoken and yes, feminist. Yes please.
This amazing feminist collective champions true intersectional feminism, as well as taking on everyone from ITV to the tech giant Facebook for sexist ads and refusing to combat sexual harassment. They only got started last year, but they already have some serious wins under their belt, like successfully banning cosmetic surgery ads from Love Island.
10. Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
Super smart, super inspirational: Anne Marie has made a career of getting young girls into STEM careers - founding the STEMETTES - an amazing institution dedicated to female science, tech and maths education. She’s closing that gender pay gap, one step at a time. Oh and, let year, she received an MBA and Woman of the Year Award for her inspiring work. No biggie.
11. Rebecca Bunce
Name-checked by Barack Obama? Yup, casual. Rebecca received a phone call from the White House - all as part of her amazing work as the founder of IC-Change, which aims to get significant legislation in the UK which would protect women from violence. Go girl.
12. Plunge Theatre
Blurring the line between art and activism, these girls are a powerhouse feminist collective. Based in south-London, this theatre trio make feminist productions tackling issues from body positivity and hair removal to equal pay and sexual harassment – placing activism front and centre in their art, even taking performances to schools across the country to talk about body positivity. The witty trio have made music videos on subjects as divergent as bikini waxes, Piers Morgan and men in ugly footwear, and are currently writing a sitcom. You heard it here first.
13. Otegha Uwagba
Otegha has quite literally written the book on inspiring women, particularly women of colour. One of Forbes 30 Under 30, Otegha is a feminist writer and founder of Women Who, an amazing collective for working women. She has also written the bestselling book the Little Black Book - a modern toolkit for working women that deals with everything from asking for a raise to yes, getting that raise.
14. Louise Troen
The VP of marketing at Bumble is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to feminism. It helps that she works at a company that puts dismantling the patriarchy fairly high on their to-do list. Innovative and imaginative, she’s an example of what happens when business gets behind activism.
15. Marsai Martin
You may know her as Diane Johnson from Blackish (yes the ‘evil twin’) but she is, in fact, a fourteen year old film producer (yes, you read that right) with her own production company, Genius. She has just made her first film; a feminist re-imagining of ‘Big’ called, well, ‘Little’ in which she also stars. She is not only the youngest person in Hollywood to produce a film, she is smart and outspoken on issues from feminism to racism.
16. Zing Tsjeng
This journalist and feminist writer is editor of Broadly, an editorial arm of Vice which focuses on the narratives of often marginalised voices. She had continued this purpose in a series of books she released last year called Forgotten Women. In them, she celebrated the overlooked stories of some of history’s most fascinating and inspiring female artists, scientists, writers and leaders. Feminist, and then some.
17. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
American writer and tech entrepreneur Amani founded Muslim Girl, an online magazine for Muslim women, back in 2009 when she was just 17. She is a powerful and inspirational activist and inspirational advocate for representation and diversity. She has partnered with Teen Vogue for stories focusing on the experiences of Muslin women and wrote Muslim Girl: Coming of Age in 2016.
18. Shon Faye
Funny, feminist and a powerful trans activist; Shon is a master of a social media quip (her post on Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran’s vastly different stage outfits was a think piece in itself) just as much as she delivers a rousing polemic on trans life in the UK. Her first book; The Transgender Issue, will be published in 2021.
19. Sophie Wilkinson
Writer and journalist Sophie is a hilarious and astute activist for feminism and LGBTQ rights. She uses both her journalism and her feed to be brilliantly outspoken and insightful about issues and causes that need awareness; from lesbian representation in films to LGBTQ education in schools.
20. Dar’shun Kendrick
You may not have heard of this American politician, but her most recent proposition is nothing short of genius. The Georgia Democrat has put forward a bill that would ban vasectomies and make it an “aggravated assault” to have sex without a condom, as a response to the aggressive and restrictive new abortion bill put forward by political conservatives. Her aim? “To bring awareness to the fact that, if you’re going to legislate our bodies, then we have every right to propose legislation to regulate yours.” Amen to that.